Health care disparities in America, Case No. 108,000,000:
Two people go to the dentist on the same day. I am “Exhibit A,” fully insured. My friend is “Exhibit B,” on Medicaid.
Exhibit A: Two hours before my appointment to get a cavity filled at 9 a.m., I receive a text message reminder from my dentist. I drive to the gleaming suburban office. At 9:02, after signing a Novocain permission form on an electronic screen, I am “numbed up” and await the dentist’s return. By 9:25, my cavity is filled and I check out at the front desk. I have forgotten my checkbook, so I take care of the co-pay with a credit card. I drive to work.
Exhibit B: My friend on Medicaid (government health insurance for the poor) walks a mile to a downtown clinic to get help for his decaying teeth, which are starting to bother him. He signs in, but walks out after a while because he doesn’t want to wait. As he leaves the clinic, he is hassled by two men hanging out near the building. (He walks the mile to the clinic the next day, only to learn dental care isn’t offered that day. He’ll try again tomorrow.)
By the way, the “case number” above refers to the number of Americans without dental insurance as of last year according to government estimates.